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Sheridan offers to strip on last day of trial

Key quote "I have been made a source of ridicule for it but, hey, that's the breaks. I am like a hairy ape. I have excessive hair on my chest, my legs and my back. If that is challenged, let's have a derobing and let's prove that physical characteristic which I think is very important in this case" - Tommy Sheridan

Story in full TOMMY Sheridan offered to disrobe yesterday to prove how hairy he was, as he made an emotional final plea to jurors and insisted he was not a swinger or an adulterer.

The former Scottish Socialist Party leader also apologised for crying earlier in the case and said the jury would have to decide whether they were the tears of a loving, faithful husband or the "tears of a fraud".

He accused the News of the World of endangering his wife, Gail, and their unborn child by printing its "fables" about him while she was in the early stages of pregnancy.

But Michael Jones, the News of the World's QC, spoke of Mr Sheridan's "truly monstrous ego" and said: "History is littered with the political corpses of great men brought down by their own recklessness."

Mr Sheridan is seeking 200,000 damages, claiming he was defamed in articles in the News of the World which portrayed him as a swinger who indulged in group sex and cheated on his wife. The paper is arguing that it published the truth.

In evidence, his wife had revealed that the MSP had excessive body hair, but she pointed out that none of the women he allegedly bedded had mentioned the fact.

Mr Sheridan told the court: "I have been made a source of ridicule for it but, hey, that's the breaks. I am like a hairy ape. I have excessive hair on my chest, my legs and my back. If that is challenged, let's have a derobing and let's prove that physical characteristic which I think is very important in this case."

There was no challenge forthcoming, and he was able to keep on his clothes.

Mr Sheridan maintained he would have to be a complete idiot to jeopardise his marriage to the woman he adored, and she had already given the most important verdict in the case by believing him.

He urged the jury also to deliver a verdict in his favour, and said: "If I am to lose my hard-earned reputation for honesty and integrity, please do not convict me on the basis of hearsay, innuendo, rumour ... testimony tarnished by political civil war, financial inducement, or a combination of both."

Because he had sacked his legal team, Mr Sheridan was able to sum up his case to the jury in person. He claimed the News of the World peddled falsehood and promoted untruth and was concerned only with sales and profit, not people's lives or truth.

He said that, after three weeks of evidence from News of the World witnesses, the question that "rises like a giant sore thumb" was: "Where is the proof?" He said: "There has been no shortage of allegations ... allegations have been as abundant as grains of sand in the Sahara Desert, but evidence, real tangible, substantial evidence, has been conspicuous by its absence.

"If you believe these articles to be true, or substantially true, you must conclude I am a serial adulterer and a swinger. That would make me a hypocrite, make me a 'love rat' to borrow the News of the World's description. But you know what? If you do believe what the News of the World has said about me, I contend you must also consider me an idiot, a complete and utter idiot."

Turning to the women with whom he was alleged to have had affairs, Mr Sheridan said he was one of the most recognisable faces in Scotland, yet if he had gone to various hotels with Fiona McGuire and expected not to be seen, he would be an idiot. If he had wanted to go to a swingers' club and keep it secret, he would have been an idiot to invite along Anvar Khan, the News of the World's sex columnist.

Cheating on his wife with Katrine Trolle in his own home, a house in the middle of a main road with his in-laws living minutes away, would not just have made him "a stinking, rotting adulterer", but also an idiot.

Referring to his wife, he said: "If I had partaken in these activities, you would be right to brand me an idiot, because what a complete idiot I would be to risk losing the woman who has stood by me through all this...the woman I love, I adore and I intend to spend the rest of my life with. I am not an idiot."

The MSP said his crying in public had been a first, for which he apologised to the jury. "You have to decide if these tears were the tears of an innocent man who is loving and faithful to his wife, or the tears of a clown, tears of a fool, tears of a complete and utter idiot," he said.

Mr Sheridan insisted the News of the World had produced not a single smoking gun, but plenty of smoke and mirrors. He said he would never forgive Ms McGuire, a former prostitute, for the "lies" she had told about him, but he could not hate her, because he believed she had mental health problems and had been exploited by the paper.

Mr Jones said it was Mr Sheridan's decision to have taken the case to court, and if the verdict went against him, then any consequences which followed were his responsibility alone.

He said: "In his attempt to defend his own reputation, he has attempted the destruction of the character of no fewer than 18 witnesses, not one of whom has been a willing participant in these proceedings. He has accused them of perjury, of being part of the 'mother of all stitch-ups' and part of a strategy to undermine him politically. What lies behind all this is a truly monstrous ego - Mr Sheridan's ego."

Mr Jones is due to finish his speech today.

 
 
 

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